Retirement should appear boring after a profession of driving Formulation 1 automobiles all around the world at 200 mph. Jenson Button has discovered some new initiatives to fill his days, although. From becoming a member of his buddies Ant Anstead and Roger Behle to revive the Radford Motors title as a contemporary boutique coachbuilder to getting again behind the wheel in a inventory automobile, Button has stayed busy.
On monitor, he partnered with Mobil 1 and Rick Ware Racing to pilot the #15 Ford at Circuit of the Americas earlier this yr, earlier than hopping into the Storage 56 cup automobile for a stellar displaying at Le Mans. We caught up with Jenson simply earlier than the inaugural NASCAR Chicago road race for a dialog starting from his return to racing to his greatest and worst automobile purchases.
C/D: You’ve got received Monaco, and you’ve got had an honest run of success at Le Mans prior to now, do you will have any need to go after the triple crown? (The triple crown of motorsport contains successful the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans, and the Indianapolis 500).
JB: I’ve little interest in racing IndyCar. I’ve numerous respect for the blokes that race in IndyCar. I do know numerous the drivers, I’ve raced in opposition to them, they’re good buddies. However racing at Indy? No. No curiosity. Highway programs I’d be fascinated by driving an IndyCar however not ovals. I do not know ovals in any respect, and at this level in my life, I’ve achieved what I’ve got down to obtain. Now I am having enjoyable. I do not really feel an Indy 500 could be enjoyable for me. It is a bit bit too scary.
C/D: Talking of you having enjoyable, what’s on the calendar?
JB: Endurance racing is the place my head’s at for subsequent yr. There are issues that I like: I like the teamwork, I like working with teammates to develop a automobile. Whereas in F1 an important particular person to beat is your teammate since you’re in the identical tools. In endurance racing, I do not care if I am the quickest man in our automobile. If I am the slowest man, that is nice, as a result of I do know I am fast. If I may help the opposite guys be faster than me and develop the automobile, that is superior as a result of it means we’ve got an amazing staff of drivers.
C/D: Are you taking a look at IMSA to remain Stateside?
JB: IMSA could be good, however then WEC additionally races some nice tracks. You understand, first, we might race at Le Mans, which is superior. Spa is fairly particular. They’re racing at Interlagos [in Brazil] subsequent yr, Qatar is new subsequent yr. I’ve pushed Qatar in a highway automobile and it is insane—very excessive velocity, very quick and flowing. So I’ve raced on each single one of many tracks, whereas IMSA I do not actually know lots of the tracks. I’ve heard that IMSA is numerous enjoyable, it is very relaxed, fairly grassroots racing. However there are less-competitive choices in IMSA. Highway Atlanta is the massive race on the finish of the yr. I is likely to be doing that one. Could be.
C/D: Transitioning a bit bit exterior of racing, what drew you to Radford? What was the attraction of that undertaking?
JB: It is myself, Ant Antsead, and Roger Behle (who’s a lawyer), and we have all been good buddies for some time. We’re the primary homeowners of Radford now, and growing a highway automobile was actually thrilling. The purpose was to work with producers to develop automobiles with them, making bespoke, coach-built automobiles for people. We constructed 62 of the primary one. Due to my background in engineering and dealing with Formulation 1 groups over time, we thought it was potential that we might construct the lightest, best-handling highway automobile there’s. One with out all of the loopy applied sciences like ABS, stability management, and all that. We will make a automobile that did not want them, as a result of it was mild, and it had sufficient mechanical grip. We did not wish to throw aero at it as a result of we simply felt that mechanical grip was extra constant. Aero is nice, however you probably have a gust of wind, it modifications the stability utterly. And would have been very troublesome to manage the airflow with the aerodynamics given the restricted wind tunnel time we might have had. So it is a very mechanical automobile.
C/D: You additionally personal an Excessive E staff. Do you discover that it is extra nerve-racking driving for a race staff or proudly owning one?
JB: It is undoubtedly extra nerve-racking driving. With staff possession, I’ve companions. As a result of I am doing so many different issues, a lot of the work is completed by them. Now we have an amazing staff of individuals. I’ve a GT staff within the UK, referred to as Rocket Motorsport, so we use these mechanics to run the Excessive E program. This system is just 5 races. It is very restricted what you are able to do with the automobiles: They go on the ship, go to the following race, come off, after which you may work on them. So it isn’t that nerve-racking. Constructing a automobile firm is much more nerve-racking. That is probably the most nerve-racking factor I’ve tried to do, as a result of I’ve put my title to it, and I’ve additionally invested in it. Racing automobiles has been very nerve-racking over time. Now it isn’t. I really feel that I get pleasure from racing now greater than I used to as a result of again then it was my job, it was my livelihood. It was my profession from the age of eight to the age of 37 once I left F1.
C/D: A number of extra lighthearted questions. First automobile?
JB: You most likely would not know what it’s, but it surely was a Vauxhall Cavalier. 2.0-liter, 8-valve, sluggish as shit, but it surely had some huge wheels on it, a lowered suspension, and large 4×8 audio system within the again, too.
C/D: Childhood dream automobile?
JB: Ferrari F40, which I owned for a short time.
C/D: First automobile buy after signing with Williams?
JB: I purchased a Ferrari F355, a yellow GTS, which I nonetheless personal.
C/D: What’s in your storage now, and what was your worst automobile buy?
JB: Oh, there’s been numerous them, numerous unhealthy automobile purchases. How do I slim it down to 1? Once I moved to America and completed with F1, I went to an public sale and acquired three automobiles. I purchased a gold 1980 Trans Am, I purchased a 1957 Bel Air that had an LS3 in it, and I purchased a blue 1956 Chevrolet pickup. The rationale why they have been the worst is as a result of I by no means drove them. They simply sat in my storage, so I offered all of them a few years in the past. I’ve had numerous unhealthy gross sales, which means I’ve offered automobiles approach too early and never made the cash I ought to have made on them. I had an Enzo that I offered for $600,000. They’re like $3 million now. I offered my F40, and it is price double what I offered it for. I had a Porsche Carrera GT, which once more, I offered, and it is price 4 occasions what I offered it for. However I’ve received on automobiles as effectively. I like my traditional automobiles. I’ve three outdated Jaguars: an E-type, a C-type, and an XK120. I am racing my C-type. It was owned by Fangio again within the day, and I am racing it at Goodwood this yr throughout the revival.
Affiliate Information Editor
Jack Fitzgerald’s love for automobiles stems from his as but unshakable habit to Formulation 1.
After a quick stint as a detailer for a neighborhood dealership group in faculty, he knew he wanted a extra everlasting strategy to drive all the brand new automobiles he couldn’t afford and determined to pursue a profession in auto writing. By hounding his faculty professors on the College of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he was capable of journey Wisconsin in search of out tales within the auto world earlier than touchdown his dream job at Automotive and Driver. His new purpose is to delay the inevitable demise of his 2010 Volkswagen Golf.